Off-White Parchment

Dora draws
thirteen symbols
with sacred geometry

and imagines Jesus
as a child
with a Spirograph

drawing set
doing similar works
and calling them all Stars.

Dora takes the symbols
cuts them out
in silhouettes

and holds them
up to her eyes
two at a time

so she might
see the dead
among the living

and their efforts
to rise up in pursuit
of new dreams.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sleep Tortures Paul

He dreams of his daughter
snatched from his hands
by an American eagle,
magicked away by pixies,
torn away by wolves,
held for ransom by kidnappers,
floated out the window on a dark melody
by mysterious musical notes,
swallowed whole by a snake,
lifted skyward by the thumb
and index finger of God.

He wakes shuddering.
His hands feel so empty
they might as well not exist.
Touch cannot be trusted
ever again.

He can not shake this feeling
that he was pulled
far outside himself,
futilely trying to stop
the tragedy, holding on
until the predatory
Angel of Death
pried his fingers
away from dear life.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Long Low Notes

The fog plays its horn section
over the woodwinds.

A ghost emerges wearing only
my memories.

She wraps a moonbeam
shawl around her shoulders.

She traces my body
with murder scene chalk.

Against my will
I cry myself out of sleep.

My hands reach out
to pull her close.

The fog plays its horn section
over the woodwinds.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Miles & Years Away

In my mind’s night
memory fields blossom
with an abstract
of what I have lived.

How can I feel
you chew your tobacco
when you are buried
in your threadbare jeans?

Or that happy hour
when that first burn slick
of Kentucky bourbon
scarred my throat.

If I add a shot before sleep
my memory fields bloom
with father’s work
when he was a teen

clearing by hand
all the weeds from between
long green rows
of waist-high maize

with his farmer’s tan
contrasting against
his sweat soaked white t-shirt
crossed by brown suspenders.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Soot

Paul tears pages from magazines.
He collages his largest bedroom wall.
Floor to ceiling.

He adds nature to his sleep.
Greens. Luscious greens.
Tropical and alpine greens.

The collage transports
his dreams into nature,
into a better feeling.

During the day as a forest
outside of Yosemite burns,
the page on his wall of that forest

smolders, then bursts into flames
that remain confined
to the pictured trees.

Not enough smoke
to set off his smoke alarm.
Just enough to blacken his white wall.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Cipher

In the indigo time,
between sleeping and waking,
the dream of love
feels the first manipulations
of the conscious mind.

During indigo
the conscious mind slides
out of the shadows
like a pilfering thief.

The whole message
slips through the thief’s fingers.
The sacred text of the sub-conscience
blurred and sullied.

Absorbed like rain
back into the fertile dreamscape
as energized thinking
rises like the sun
burning off the ground fog
of dreaming.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Slump

Two friends fall asleep
next to each

with the innocence of puppies
after a playful romp.

They slump onto each other.
Head upon a shoulder.

Head upon a head.
Hands touching along blue jean seams.

Their breath soft as a breeze
through willow branches.

A flutter of pale green leaves.
A sleepy recession of awareness.

One dreams a thread through the needle’s eye.
The other dreams an unnoticed sun.

Two friends will wake.
And realize their closeness.

One will uncurl and stretch naturally.
The other will doubt the innocence of it all.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

New Midnight Ritual

I wake from a dream.
It was not my dream.
A flock of snow geese dreamt me.

An owl swooped down
with the message scrolling from its beak
I am the savior of the world.

The owl ate me.
But I did not die.
I felt myself pressed into canvas.

Hieronymus Bosch added colors
with confident brush strokes.
He shaded dimensions on a lost Annunciation painting.

Words scroll from Gabriel’s mouth to Mary’s ear.
The pope and bishops sit at a table in the background,
knives and forks ready to parse the cooked goose.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Second Burst

I purchased a skiff
and painted eyes on the prow
so it would guide me
through the seas of sleep.

The unimaginable regularly appears,
blows storms through my dreams.
To prepare me, my angels say.
I have met the ruthless segment of humanity.

I met a hungry soldier in a time of war
who used a grenade launcher to herd geese close
then killed every one of them
with his armored personnel carrier’s machine gun.

I cannot say the preparation
my dreams sent me
equipped me to handle
this real life equivalent.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Group Session

At night, before bed,
Paul takes dreams out of a jar
and swallows them whole.

Ellie deadens her dreams
with red wine purchased
from an oaken cask at her corner tavern.

Dave’s dreams visit him nine times each
until their cat-lives are used up
before a new one appears.

Annie dreams marathons at first sleep
and seagulls following trollers
as the sun first touches her window.

Larry clamshells his dreams
only to nightly envision an octopus
crack them open and feast.

Megan walks a moon drenched beach
her footprints disappearing
almost as soon as her feet clear the sand.

I do not remember my dreams.
I prefer my sacred messages
delivered after tea by angels.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney